Recently, Call of Duty Vanguard debuted a new upcoming operator skin that was hard to miss. It was a “dog soldier,” a skin with the head of the riotous dog and the body of a man. It initially sparked a debate about whether Call of Duty was getting too “goofy” with its skin designs, but now another issue has emerged.
Sail Lin, a Chinese artist, claims that the “Loyal Samoyed” skin was stolen directly from their own Samoye Medical artwork posted to Artstation two years ago, as part of a larger “Monster Army” concept art series that includes several includes dog breeds like soldiers but also alligators, tigers and polar bears.
This is not just a matter of Call of Duty, but also a “dog soldier” concept with a Samoyed head. As noted in a viral comparison post on Twitter, which has now racked up 14,000 likes at the time of writing, Lin highlights direct similarities between the skin and his own art, including a backpack attachment, a similar scarf pattern, a left elbow pad for the arm only, and a backpack for the right leg only. And the whole poncho. The Samoyed face is slightly grayer with “battle paint” and has taken away some of the “medic” designations of the original art, but the similarities are clear.
I reached out to Sail Lin, who got back to me and echoed what they said in their original Twitter post where they would like a statement from Activision explaining what happened and compensation for their work. I have also contacted Activision about the situation and will update if they get back to me.
Unfortunately, this is something we’ve seen at times across the industry, where studio artists lift designs from relatively unknown artists, thinking it can’t be traced back. It’s hard to see what else could have happened here as there are similar “concepts” and direct elevators. This doesn’t seem like mere “inspiration” from outside work, but something that does need an explanation and some sort of arrangement with the original artist.
We’ll see what happens next. This has become a bit too viral for Activision to just ignore, and I’m curious if the Samoyed skin will be removed from the game, or if a deal will be struck with Sail Lin for the likeness. Or, of course, there’s still the option for Activision to deny the similarities and try to get past this controversy. But this is something that deserves a response, based on the evidence I see here.
Update: Raven has already scrubbed the skin of a recent blog post, but has yet to release a statement. It seems they are at least aware.
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